NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee is testing how new state license plates appear on certain camera systems, according to a memo released on Wednesday.
News 2 first reported in early February about problems some License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras are having with seeing the new dark blue plates at night. LPR cameras have played a critical role in AMBER Alert situations, tracking fugitives, and finding stolen vehicles. Law enforcement agencies say they do not use the cameras for traffic enforcement.
A memo sent to the commissioners of Revenue and Public Safety from the state’s Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Gibson, outlines testing done by troopers in February. The memo details two occasions of testing last month involving plates with various changes to the paint formula.
Five camera brands were used each time. The first test found two brands could read all 18 plates tested. One brand read four, one brand picked up one, and the other brand tested did not get a read on any of the plates.
The second test involved five Tennessee specialty plates using another color mix. Two camera systems picked up five reads while the other three cameras did not see them.
The memo said the state is discussing work with a national group involved in license plate standards regarding new testing opportunities.
Late last month, News 2 worked with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department to test the ongoing problem, driving a pickup with the new dark blue license plate past an LPR camera several times. Images provided by WCSO show its camera, manufactured by Flock Safety, captured the outline of the truck, but the license plate was washed out and unreadable.
In an email sent to News 2 on March 15, a Department of Revenue spokesperson said the state is not considering a change to a white license plate at this time. As of early March, 725,000 of the new blue plates had been distributed across Tennessee.